If you stop and think about it, the technology we use in our daily lives is truly mind-blowing. Take Google, for instance. When you begin typing a request into its search bar, the engine starts to guess what you’re looking for—even showing you suggestions while you’re still typing. This level of sophistication requires a lot of data and extremely advanced technology.
Can we do something similar when it comes to servicing mortgage loans? Yes, we can.
We are on the cusp of a quantum leap in our industry, as the technology we use is catching up to the tremendous amount of data we already possess.
As we are all probably aware, the mortgage industry has not historically been known as the most cutting edge, especially on the servicing side. But things are changing—and quickly. Mortgage servicing technology is starting to catch up with the vast amount of data we have accumulated over the past several years, allowing us to make full use of that information and improve what we do.
DIGGING THROUGH THE DATA
Most servicers now store more than 10,000 elds of data on every loan they service. Just a few years ago, the industry typically captured and stored no more than a couple of hundred data points.
Technology improvements still haven’t fully caught up to the vast amount of data we capture, but servicing systems have become much more robust over the last few years. In fact, in the next few years, we believe servicers will be able to use all that information already housed in their systems to make better, faster decisions that will enable them to improve customer service, lower risk, reduce fraud, and increase loan quality. The data is there, but we haven’t had the tools to fully exploit it. Now that the tools are within reach, we will be able to service loans smarter, better, cheaper, and faster than we ever have before.
PUSHING PROGRESS FORWARD
While advancements in technology are closer to making servicer data more actionable, there are several imperatives hastening it, making this change not just something that will be nice to have, but something that must happen—and soon.
Certainly, regulatory compliance pressures and investor demands are driving servicers to improve, but so are increased consumer expectations. As we noted in the Google example, consumers today are used to pressing a button on a smartphone and getting what they want almost instantly.
We are already seeing that urgency on the origination side of our business with the advent of the digital mortgage. Consumers can now apply for a loan online and check the status of their application no matter their location or the time of day.
THE POWER OF DATA
By truly leveraging all this data, we will be able to make our processes better and faster, while also lowering risk and improving quality. More speci cally, we will be able to respond to borrower requests faster and more accurately. at will come in handy, especially given the regulations that require us to respond to customer requests—for a loan modi cation, for example—within a certain number of days. A combination of more data and better technology will reduce the time of our response. It should also increase the quality of that response, which will, in turn, improve the customer’s experience.
Improved data can also improve overall customer service. An underwriter or loss mitigation agent, for example, will be able to resolve matters faster based on our historical experience with all of our customers. We’ll know what may work and what won’t—even before the customer calls.
While it is important to do things faster for the borrower, we also want to make sure we are not increasing risk in the process. Better data mining will enable us to better spot and reduce fraud. We will be able to track certain trends and patterns so that we can identify the potential risk of fraud and loss. This is just what our industry needs.
What particularly intrigues us is the use we can make of the recordings of conversations with customers.
We’re all familiar with the notice we get when we call a financial institution or other organization: “is call may be recorded for training and quality assurance purposes.” That’s not just an annoying disclaimer. In fact, we actually do use those recordings for those stated purposes. We use them to make sure our employees are making the required disclosures to borrowers and are treating customers appropriately. We also use them to identify which of our call center representatives are doing a good job and which ones need to improve.
But instead of listening to just a sampling of these phone calls, enhanced technology will enable us to listen and learn from every single one of our calls. Yes, everyone. As we look ahead to the next year or two, we think that is the next step of advanced intelligence gathering.
You might be wondering, “With all of the tens of thousands of calls servicers get each year, what difference will it make between listening to a random sampling of calls as opposed to all of them?” The answer is a lot. In fact, the more data we can learn from, the better the results.
Another intriguing aspect will not just be listening to the words being spoken but being able to interpret what the customer is saying beyond the actual words, and identifying and extracting meaning from the borrower’s— and the agent’s—tone. We’re already seeing this speech technology being put to use on Wall Street trading floors to mitigate losses from fraud and unauthorized trades. Using voice data and other information, banks and securities firms can try to head of bad trades or illegal activity by their employees before they happen.
In the mortgage servicing realm, we’ll be able to ensure even better quality to our customers than we can now. In theory, if we can listen to all phone calls instead of a random sample of them, we’ll be better able to make sure all of our employees are always doing things the right way and providing good support all the time. I know for a fact that as a servicer, we do it a vast majority of the time.
The question is, can we go even further to improve the quality of the work we do? I think we can. is technology will enable us to improve the quality of our delivery by identifying exceptions earlier and implementing fixes more quickly.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
These phenomenal technological advances will make the next year or two an exciting time for mortgage servicers—as well as our borrowers and investors. If technology improvements come even close to matching the increase in data capture we’ve seen over the past few years, taking customer service and quality control “to the next level” won’t be a trite cliché but a reality.